NBC's 'Windfall' Makes Ensemble Dreams Come True


It has to be the all-time favorite supposition. "If I win the lottery, I would buy ... ." After telling off bosses and landlords, the newly minted millionaires envision themselves lolling about carefree in mansions.

NBC's "Windfall," premiering Thursday, June 8, does a terrific job of dramatizing what 20 people of diverse backgrounds would do if they suddenly became rich. At the heart of the engaging drama are two couples, Peter and Nina Schaefer (Luke Perry, Lana Parrilla) and Cameron and Beth Walsh (Jason Gedrick, Sarah Wynter).

Peter and Cameron are longtime friends, and Nina and Cameron were college sweethearts who still harbor feelings for each other.

The series begins as Nina and Peter host a party with a mix of people. They keep a can in the kitchen for people to toss in money if they want to enter the lottery. Everyone antes up, including the pizza delivery woman, Kimberly George (Malinda Williams, "Idlewild").

The next day, as Nina is writing checks and half-watching the news, she realizes they won $386 million! Even split among 20 people, and after taxes, this is serious.

Just how much does one change when one goes from struggling to fabulously wealthy? The first two episodes show various members of the cast dealing with their newfound riches.

Cameron, a professor, has a former student claim her child is his. He does not recall her, which could mean he really is a dog or she's an extortionist. Wealth, each character learns, brings a new set of problems. Still, receiving a windfall is a fun thought to ponder.

"I am not exactly sure what I would do," Perry says. "And that's what I find interesting about the show. All of a sudden these people have to make these pretty major decisions. Nobody has any education for it. What are the possibilities? Then, there are all of these unintended consequences. You can't stop people from doing things just because you have money.

"To me, it's a story about two friends, Cameron and me, and how money will come between them," he says. "It doesn't make your life any easier. You just think it does. You don't have to do your own cooking or laundry, but it's not going to buy you health or make you happy."

Wynter, however, knows what she would do with millions.

"I would pay Gisele Bundchen to be my body double in every single thing from here on in!" she says. "I would give some to charity, of course, but that's such a boring answer. I would probably buy some Henry Moore sculptures."

Money changes the characters' lives, from taking Kimberly out of the trailer park to allowing Peter to consider opening his own factory.

"It's a fascinating story about friendships and relationships," Wynter says. "I call it 'thirtysomething' meets 'Dynasty.' You have these terrifically well-rounded characters living life, and it also explores the very real reality of people who have a lot of money. You still have to deal with the hardships and complicated heartbreak of life."

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